- When: July 23, 1978
- Where: Oakland Coliseum (Oakland, California)
- What: The band had moments ago walked off the stage at Bill Graham’s third presentation of the Day On The Green concerts (other bands that day included Foreigner, Pat Travers, Aerosmith, and Van Halen [their first tour])) in Oakland, California, when I cornered guitarist Angus Young. He was sipping on a beer and still flying high on the adrenaline rush from a chilling performance. We sat down at one of the many picnic-like tables they had set up backstage at the Coliseum. As I was setting up my $6 cassette player, this unbelievably drunk guy comes wandering over. He’s loud and obnoxious and absolutely pinned to the gills with drink. I’m about to stand up and politely ask him to leave when Angus motions for him to cover over and sit down. I then realize, to my shock and concern, that it’s Bon Scott. This may not provide a tremendous insight into Bon‘s true persona – he was pretty well liquored up at this point and just exploding with energy – but it does show, that even to the last, he went out kicking like hell. And he was a very sweet drunk. It is a tragic fact and a moribund irony in the rock world that sometimes the death of an artist represents his ultimate coup de grace, his emergence into the public eye and into the unofficial music hall of fame. Such was the case of Bon Scott, former lead singer of Australia’s AC/DC. For five albums, the band struggled to achieve a secure footing and it wouldn’t be until his untimely and disheartening death on February 19, 1980 that they finally managed to gain a foothold. This conversation took place just after the release of Highway To Hell, Scott’s final album. Bon, as fiery offstage as he was on, was a colorful talker and not one to mince words. He was a rebel in his way, living an exaggerated style of life that used no clocks and paid little attention to tomorrows. The band’s onstage performances were perfect vehicles for Scott’s manic antics and at any concert one could see him bare-chested, sweating, singing like the possessed, and generally turning AC/DC into the act it would eventually become.
- What are your feelings on the new record?
- Angus Young: I think it’s great. AC/DC GUITAR LESSONS
- The best you’ve done?
- AY: Fuck, yeah. We spent a lot more time on this one. A lot more people are listening to the band than what they’ve ever done before.
“The band has a lot of rawness; it progressed, but it hasn’t lost its feeling.“
- What is the process like when you record in the studio?
- AY: They get me and they strap me to a seat and then say, ‘Go play.’
- Bon Scott: When we record everybody thinks like one mind. Everybody gives suggestions and says, ‘Why don’t we try this?‘
- Do you run around the studio when you’re cutting guitar parts?
- AY: Yeah. I don’t know too much about the technical side of guitar; I never bothered with it. If you know too much, it all becomes complex and then you start dissecting and analyzing. I just like thinking of it as good clean fun, you know? The only times I pick up a guitar is when I feel like playing rather than six hours a day practice. Where do the ideas for the songs come from?
- AY: We pick up riffs and things on the road, you might come across somethin’ and it sticks in your head. We don’t just walk in and go, ‘Well, we’ve got nothing, what are we gonna do? All sit around and twiddle our thumbs. We always have a good idea.
- How would you say the band has developed since the first two albums until now?
- AY: Oh, the band has gone a long way.
- BS: And the fact that our music hasn’t changed.
- AY: The band has a lot of rawness; it progressed, but it hasn’t lost its feeling.
- BS: No matter how long you play rock and roll for, the songs might change, just as long as the balls is always there.
- AY: A lot of people take us wrong; people criticize us because they say we can’t play. It’s a lot of bullshit.
- BS: Shit, man, we could play fuckin’ AY: two hundred chords.
- BS: Anything, jazz, whatever. But we choose to do what we do. Anybody who criticizes that is themselves, they’re thinking wrong, we’re not thinking wrong, they are.
- AY: I hate bands that go above people’s heads, you know? You know, musically they’re trying to put shit on an audience and that’s what they are doing. They’re not going with ’em, they’re going against ’em.
“No matter how long you play rock and roll for, the songs might change.“
- So people like John McLaughlin and Al DiMeola bores you?
- AY: Fuck yeah. If I wanted to sit down and play like John McLaughlin, I could. It would be a piece of shit to me.
- Do you listen to any other music?
- AY: No, not really.
- What about other guitar players?
- AY: Not if I know I can to it myself. I like watching flamenco guitarists. People say, ‘Listen to this’ and it just sounds like the guy next door. There are a lot of good guitarists in the world but you just lose interest. It’s like if you saw Pete Townshend when he first started off, it was all bang, bang the hell out of the guitar. But the style he plays is probably the most imitated in the world. (Eric) Clapton was happening but he got too technical. He made 12 bars seem like a big thing. There are a hell of a lot of good players around, so many you can’t keep track. But I haven’t brought a record in years except something like Muddy Waters. S
- o you were aware of people Clapton and Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page? Jimmy Page guitar lessons
- AY: Yeah, they’ve been ripping me off for years. At the time I was playing, these were all the people who were famous. Jeff Beck I don’t know about; all I ever heard of Jeff Beck was when he played rock and roll, I don’t know what he’s doing now. And Jimi Hendrix was an entertainer. He was on The Old Grey Whistle Test (television program) in England and he was playing ‘Wild Thing’ or something like and all that was was fuckin’ noise.
- And how do you feel about punk bands? Any sympathy for them?
- AY: None.
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